Education Dept: Tackling Mat Lajak menace in Johor an uphill task

The act of Mat Lajak riding modified mini bicycles is dangerous. Picture shows some of the bicycles seized by the police in Kulai.

JOHOR BARU: The Education Department is facing a problem in many schools when addressing social ills, including the Mat Lajak menace, because most teenagers will not tell on their mates.

Johor Education Department director Shaharudin Sharif said that despite ongoing efforts to tackle unhealthy activities involving students, it had difficulty reaching out to the youngsters.

“Most of them will not spill the beans on their friends. This is an obstacle for us,” he said.

The department has directed schools to inform their students during daily assemblies that they should avoid cycling in the wee hours and late at night, endangering themselves and other road users, he said.

“Apart from that, schools also give individual counselling to students found to be part of Mat Lajak groups,” he said when contacted.

Shaharudin called on parents to play a more proactive role in disciplining their children, instead of passing the responsibility to teachers.

Discipline starts from the home and parents should be more aware of their children’s movements and activities, he said.

He noted that many of these students come from lower-income families, with parents who were too preoccupied with making ends meet.

“So now many parents have passed the disciplinary role to the teachers,” he added.

He also said that some parents prefer to send their errant children to boarding schools, believing that it would make them more obedient.

“It is not right to think that sending a child to boarding school will fix everything.

“Parents themselves play a major role in shaping their children’s future,” he added.

His comments followed the latest police round-up of 22 Mat Lajak aged between 14 and 17, including a girl, at around 3am on Saturday.

The teenage cyclists were spotted in large groups at the very spot that eight cyclists were killed after a car ploughed into them along Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, near the Mahmoodiah Muslim cemetery, on Feb 18.

On March 28, saleswoman Sam Ke Ting claimed trial to a charge of ramming into the group of cyclists.

State police chief Comm Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd said police may take legal action against parents or guardians of Mat Lajak, under Section 33 of the Child Act 2001.

“We do not want to waste resources and manpower going after teenage cyclists.

“But these children give us no choice, we have to take action against them as their action of riding modified mini-bicycles is very dangerous,” he said.

He said this when visiting Hospital Sultanah Aminah with members of the Johor Police Family Association led by its chairman Datin Seri Musalma Mohd Saman.

The police will submit reports and proposals to the Johor Mentri Besar’s office on ways to overcome the menace, he said.

Johor Baru South OCPD Asst Comm Sulaiman Salleh said the road near the cemetery was dimly lit and sloped, and was the main meeting point for the teenage racers and spectators.

He said police would look into all angles, including whether there were third parties and gambling involved in the organising of night races for Mat Lajak.

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